Rebell says state budget surplus should fund schools
Reacting to news that New York State is now expecting a whopping $2 billion budget surplus this year, Michael Rebell, Executive Director of The Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, is urging Governor George Pataki "to immediately work with both houses of the legislature and pass the Schools for New York's Future Act" -- a bill that would compel the state to comply with a court order to provide billions of dollars in additional funding to New York City schools.
Pataki announced the budget surplus prior to delivering his annual State of the State address this afternoon.
"The state-of-the-state in New York today is abject contempt of the Court of Appeals by Governor Pataki," said Rebell, who for 12 years guided the plaintiff organization that successfully brought suit against the state. "In the face of a $2 billion surplus, the governor's continuing defiance of the court order, now over 500 days past the deadline, is downright deplorable. There are no more excuses."
Last June, the New York State Assembly introduced the Schools for New York's Future Act, Bill A-100, to meet the State's court-mandated obligation to provide an adequate education to all of its schoolchildren. The bill calls for just over $2 billion to fund the first year of the legislation -- roughly the amount of the state budget surplus.
Nationwide, schools serving poor children receive $900 less per student than their peers in wealthier districts. New York provides its poor children $2,280 less per pupil than its more affluent children -- two and a half times the national average.
"By adequately funding every school in New York State, the governor has an historic opportunity this legislative session to erase a stain on his record that was left by years of denying children their basic constitutional rights," said Rebell. "I can't think of a better use for the $2 billion surplus."